Jan 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

2020 Senate fights spark breathtaking fundraising totals

Data: FEC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: FEC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The battle for control of the U.S. Senate has triggered unprecedented fundraising at the congressional level, with one Democratic candidate out-raising Al Gore in his presidential race just 20 years ago.

By the numbers: The top 10 Senate fundraisers in 2020 brought in more than double the money raised by the top 10 campaigns in 2018, raking in over $1 billion collectively, according to data filed with the Federal Election Commission by Dec. 24.

In Georgia, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, and Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have collectively raised $446.7 million this election cycle.

  • That exceeds the 2018 total brought in by the top nine Senate candidates.
  • Ossoff and Warnock smashed fundraising records in the last reporting period, each receiving over $100 million in two months. The $140 million total raised by Ossoff this cycle exceeds Gore's tally from 2000.
  • This year's fundraising has been propelled by the closeness of the results on Election Day in November. If Democrats can win both runoffs Tuesday, they can gain a 50-50 split in the Senate and a future Vice President Kamala Harris will cast tie-breaking votes in their favor.

The big picture: In the 2000 presidential race, Gore raised $133 million himself; adjusted for inflation, that would equal $201 million today.

  • The overall total raised by Gore and George W. Bush would equate to $494 million in today's dollars, or less than half of the 2020 Senate totals.

The bottom line: While money matters, especially in races as close as the Georgia runoffs, remember that Jaime Harrison, Amy McGrath and Sara Gideon were some of 2020's biggest fundraisers.

  • The three Democrats soundly lost in their bids to unseat Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins, respectively.
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